Members of Ropes & Gray’s pro bono team accepted the 2019 Pro Bono award from Asian Law Caucus (pictured from left: ALC Deputy Director, Thomas Mariadason with former Ropes & Gray associate Torryn Taylor, former Ropes & Gray associate Matthew Tolve, litigation & enforcement associate Nicole Horowitz and former associate Hasti Ahangi and litigation & enforcement partner Rocky Tsai)
The Asian Law Caucus (ALC), the nation’s oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the civil and other legal rights of Asian Pacific Islander communities, has honored Ropes & Gray with its 2019 Pro Bono Award for the firm’s pro bono impact litigation on behalf of the San Francisco Chinatown Community Tenants’ Association as well as multiple individual tenants who reside in San Francisco Chinatown. ALC documented a portion of the firm’s pro bono work in this short video, which was screened at the April 2019 awards gala, featuring Ropes & Gray litigation & enforcement partner Rocky Tsai.
Presented at ALC’s 47th Anniversary Dinner, an annual awards gala attended by over 800 guests honoring individuals or organizations who have made a significant impact in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, the award recognizes Ropes & Gray’s litigation work combatting the coercive landlord practices that many low-income, non-English-speaking tenants are facing in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown community.
For the past year, Ropes & Gray has been co-counsel with ALC representing tenants living in single room occupancy buildings across Chinatown, who largely consist of elderly, low-income immigrants with limited or no English proficiency. These clients have been subject to unauthorized fines, the purported unilateral imposition by the landlord of a brand-new, English-only lease agreement containing improper liquidated damages penalty terms, and other actions prohibited under fair housing, unfair business practices, and other laws.
“This case would have been impossible to manage on our own—we’re a small nonprofit team, and Ropes & Gray provided this great resource. They were also really unique in that they understood this new wave of practices, unlawful actions and harassment that would threaten the entire community,” said Lauren Hiller, Community Advocate, Housing Rights, ALC.
“Our clients–and this lawsuit–are taking a stand against these illegal landlord practices,” said Rocky Tsai, who leads the firm’s pro bono impact litigation in this case. “It’s been remarkable to stand beside our clients, who have overcome so much already.”
The firm’s work in this case is ongoing.
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